chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
September 22, 2023

American Bar Association announces Presidential Speaker Series

CHICAGO, Sept. 22, 2023 — American Bar Association President Mary Smith announced the launch of the ABA Presidential Speaker Series, a collection of diverse virtual conversations with globally recognized figures, including former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder, labor rights icon Dolores Huerta, Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, and former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Charles Johnson and former federal judge J. Michael Luttig. The online series, which aims to elevate discourse by spotlighting the trailblazers and thinkers shaping our collective future, kicks off with Daalder on Oct. 5 at 3 p.m. ET, with subsequent episodes releasing Thursdays at the same time.

The guests in the Speaker Series encapsulate Smith’s theme for her presidential term — “Lifting Our Voices, Charting the Future” — and will foster dialogue with world leaders, thought leaders, businesspeople, philanthropists, artists and other change-makers. Each installment offers a fireside chat format that delves into the personal and professional journeys and pivotal moments of these influential guests, as well as thought-provoking discussions of pressing national and global concerns, serving as both inspiration and a catalyst for deeper exploration of current events.

“Law touches everything in society, and we are privileged to launch the new ABA Presidential Speaker Series with a stellar line-up of luminaries who every day lift their voices and chart the future with their work,” Smith said. “These conversations will foster civility and engender stimulating conversations. We hope these conversations will inspire our members, particularly young lawyers and law students and lead to ways that our members can continue to serve the profession and advance the rule of law. These special conversations are not to be missed.”

To introduce the series, the first four installments will be free to both ABA members and the public. Thereafter, the Presidential Speaker Series will continue to be free for ABA members but will include a charge for non-members.

Schedule of speakers

  • Thursday, Oct. 5

    Ivo H. Daalder, chief executive officer of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and former U.S. ambassador to NATO, interviewed by Ertharin Cousin, CEO and founder, Food Systems for the Future and former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture.
  • Thursday, Oct. 12

    Dolores Huerta, civil rights icon, American labor leader and activist who, with Cesar Chavez, is a co-founder of the United Farmworkers Association. For a special Hispanic Heritage Month program, Huerta will be interviewed by the Rev. Miguel Bustos, the Episcopal Church’s manager for Racial Reconciliation and Justice for the U.S. and Latin America and former executive director of the California Latino Civil Rights Network. Co-sponsored by the Hispanic National Bar Association.
  • Thursday, Oct. 19

    Martin Scorsese, Academy Award-winning director, producer and screenwriter and director of the new film, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” along with Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear, principal chief of the Osage Nation, interviewed by ABA President Mary Smith and Jimmy K. Goodman, president, American Bar Foundation, and attorney at Crowe & Dunlevy.
  • Thursday, Nov. 2

    Deb Haaland, U.S. Secretary of the Interior. For a special Native American Heritage Month program, Haaland will be featured with a special panel of Native American women “firsts” including:

    Abby Abinanti
    (Yurok), chief judge, Yurok Tribe and First Native American woman to pass the California Bar Exam

    Kimberly Teehee
    (Cherokee), first delegate-designate to the U.S. House of Representatives from the Cherokee Nation and former senior policy adviser for Native American affairs in the White House

    Stacy Leeds
    (Cherokee), Willard H. Pedrick Dean and Regents Professor of Law, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, and first Native American woman to serve as a law school dean.

    Guests will be interviewed by Makalika Naholowa'a, executive director, Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. and president, National Native American Bar Association (and first Native Hawaiian in this role). Co-sponsored by the National Native American Bar Association.

    The program will be followed by the release of the study by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession in collaboration with the National Native American Bar Association tentatively titled “Excluded and Alone: Examining the Experiences of Native American Women in the Law and a Path Towards Equity.” Presented by Firekeepers Circle Co-chairs Jin Hwang, past president of the National Asian and Pacific American Bar Association, and Linda Benally, past president of the National Native American Bar Association. 
  • Thursday, Nov. 9

    “A.I. – The New Frontier” featuring a panel of special advisers to the
    ABA Task Force on the Law and Artificial Intelligence

    Panelists include:

    Ivan Fong
    , former general counsel of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and executive vice president, general counsel and secretary at Medtronic

    Daniel Ho
    , member of the National AI Advisory Committee, William Benjamin Scott and Luna M. Scott Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and associate director of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence

    Michelle Lee
    , former undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property and director, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and CEO and founder of Obsidian Strategies

    Trooper Sanders
    , member of the National AI Advisory Committee and CEO of Benefits Data Trust

    Miriam Vogel
    , chair of the National AI Advisory Committee and president and CEO of EqualAI

    Seth Waxman
    , former U.S. solicitor general and partner, WilmerHale.

    Guests will be Interviewed by Lucy Thomson, chair, ABA Task Force on the Law and Artificial Intelligence.
  • Thursday, Dec. 7

    ABA Task Force for American Democracy co-chairs Jeh Charles Johnson, former secretary of Homeland Security, and former federal judge J. Michael Luttig, for a conversation with David French, New York Times opinion columnist.

Additional episodes to be announced. More information on the Presidential Speaker Series can be found at

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.